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Have you ever wondered what life is like for your children? As an adult, I’ve come to accept the hardships and limitations of our life here in Mexico, although sometimes not as gracefully as I should. When I read my son’s guest blog post, I had the opportunity to look at our life through his eyes. I hope you enjoy his little contribution.
by guest blogger WPFT.
I live in a small neighborhood called La Yacata. It’s called La Yacata because it has a small mountain of stones in the middle of it. There are like 7 families that live there, and we are pretty many neighbors even though we live a mile away from each other. My grandpa and my uncle live up the hill from where we do. It’s mostly trees and rocks and stuff. The roads are very badly paved. Most of my classmates and most of the people I meet think I live in a cave because we have no electricity. They don’t know how to survive that way. However, our living conditions are ok compared to some people because we are comfortable with the money we have, but we could still get more.
I’m in the second grade of middle school. I get up very early, at 5:30 am and go to school until 1:40 pm. My grades are pretty good. I like math. I don’t like physics and art. There are 45 kids in my class. I would like if the school had grass on the fields so that it’s more comfortable and easier to play there. (See Why we chose to send our child to public school in Mexico)
After school is over, I walk to the school where my mom works and play on the computer awhile. I like to play Minecraft, Halo, and Fable. I like to come to the school to play because we don’t have electricity at our house.
At 4:30 pm I go to soccer practice until 6:30 pm. During training, we run and jog. I train as a goalkeeper. The other kids make shots, and I stop them. I play goalkeeper on two teams. The difference between the two teams is that one team is made up of 12- and 13-year-olds and the other team are 15+-year-olds. I play with them even though I’m only 13. The little team is pretty good. We’re in third place on the ranking board.
After that, I go home to tend to the horses, goats, chickens and cats for about 2 hours. And let’s not forget about our dog Chokis. I give them water and feed them. I take the goats and horses out awhile so they can eat. The horses eat grass. The goats enjoy eating short grass and tree branches. With the goats, sometimes it’s very difficult to take care of them because they run around. There’s not a day that goes by that Chokis doesn’t go with me and the animals. Most of the time I listen to music while I’m out with the animals. I also like to read a book. When I bring them in, first I bring in the goats because if I bring in the horses first, the goats will run away. And then I go back and get the horses. After that, I give them water and feed them for the night. (See Our Family Hobby)
Then I read and go to bed, preparing myself for another day. Sometimes I play on my laptop when I take it home. I read with the flashlight in the night. I like to read adventure books. Sometimes I watch a movie on the portable DVD player. I like to watch comedy movies. I used to play on my phone, but now it has a tumor, and I can only see one corner of the screen. I have no idea when my mom is going to buy me a new one. I wash my face a lot, and then I go to bed.
On Saturdays, I go to the school where my mom works and use the computer and listen to music. I do a Portuguese course on DuoLingo and play Minecraft or watch YouTube videos. After that, I do my homework and take out the animals….again.
Sometimes my life is very boring because I have nothing to do or brothers or sisters to play with. Sometimes my mom is very annoying because she wants me to do boring stuff like write this blog post. My dad is very annoying because he makes me do stuff when I’m doing something else.
My life would be better if we had electricity and a fair amount of money and less animals because sometimes they are just too much for me to handle. Overall, life is medium-good, but it could be better.
See it in video format!
My husband and I are active but have never considered ourselves athletic. We don’t follow sports on television or attend sporting events. So when our son started showing an interest in soccer, we didn’t take it seriously at first.
Being an only child meant that he was frustrated in his attempts to practice different soccer moves he had seen on youtube. It seemed important to him, so I promised him 15 minutes daily of my time. During those 15 minutes, he would show me how he wanted the ball sent his way, and he would make the concerted effort to block or capture it.
After a few weeks of this, he asked if he could join a soccer team. I told him that if he found a team, he would need to let us know about the costs and training schedule and that we discuss it. Meanwhile, he redoubled his efforts in our “practice.” I happened to go with him and his friend one Saturday to the park, and it changed what I thought about his level of interest in soccer. The boys watched the game and during half-time, used the field while the players rested. Every 30 minutes, they had 5-10 minutes to play. Yes, my son could be on a soccer team if the opportunity presented itself. Any kid that would patiently wait out a game just for a few minutes on the field was serious about playing.
One of his classmates said that his team had an opening and asked my son could go and talk to the coach. Desperate, he asked if he could go. I said yes with the understanding that we would know exactly where he was at all times and that he would get the information about the cost of uniforms, salary for the coach and times for practice. The coached allowed my son to join the team. There were no fees involved. The uniform and socks could be obtained for under 100 pesos in el mercado (market). So much the better.
Training would be Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30. I rearranged my afternoon class schedule so that I could take him to the field. My husband then would pick him up after he finished work. He gave the coach 2 small photos and a copy of his birth certificate so that a credential (identification) could be made. He used his savings to buy a pair of soccer cleats, and he was all ready to go.
His first game was on a Sunday morning. He was nervous–really, really nervous. He also had a bit of a cold. We did our morning chores (See A Day in the Life) and headed to the playing field. Unfortunately, the team played in Uriangato which is quite a distance from La Yacata. A half-mile from the field, we ran out of gas. My husband went for gas, my son went in the direction of the field, and I waited with the car. Of course, being late didn’t help his overall confidence any.
He played in the second half. He was the newbie and all. He didn’t do very well, but his team won the game, so no real harm was done. I waited to see if he wanted to throw in the towel or give it another go. He opted to head to practice on Tuesday.
His real dream was to play goalie. He managed to talk the coach into letting him try out for the position. The coach seemed suitably impressed. After a few weeks, he switched uniforms with the present goalie. His self-esteem was sky-high. Then the coach asked if he would be interested in playing with the juvenile (teenage) team that he coached. My son regretfully declined. But the coach asked again, as did several of the big boy players. We agreed he could play with the understanding that he would only be able to go to practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays like he had been doing–no additional training days. He agreed, and two teams practiced together on those days. Even so, the juvenile team played on Saturdays, so it did add another game day to his schedule.
With two weekend games, he has had to become more responsible for his uniform. We wash on Sunday mornings (See After Ecstasy the Laundry), but that doesn’t allow enough time for his uniform to dry. So he has now developed the habit of washing his uniform himself right after the Saturday game and hanging it out to dry so that it will be clean and presentable for the Sunday game.
It is inconvenient. The practice and playing fields are quite a distance from our home. It is expensive. My son bought 5 soccer balls in as many weeks, the original uniform, two pairs of cleats, two pairs of gloves, shin guards and then shorts for the new team uniform. We just don’t have the money to spare, so my son has purchased all of the items from his savings. It is time-consuming. We had a pretty full schedule already. There are so many things that just have to be done that there isn’t a lot of time for things that we want to do.
I worry about his safety, in particular with the bigger boys. The players are fairly aggressive, and near-fights happen as players are fouled. I worry when the ball hits his face, or a player kicks him. Then I realized that his team’s whole focus is protecting the goal, which is in essence, protecting my son. My worry eased. I worry when I drop him off for practice. The practice field isn’t exactly in the best neighborhood. Then I realized that I won’t always be able to protect him from the world and that he has quite a bit of common sense that could be relied on. (See Independence vs. Safety) I worried less. I worry about the habits he might pick up when I hear the other players call each other “guey.” Then I realized that he has already learned in which situations such informality is permissible. No worries!
Even with these negatives, as I watch my son play, I know that it is the right thing for him to do. His pre-teen awkwardness becomes grace on the field. He is learning to find joy in success and to handle disappointment with style. He is learning how to become one part of a whole. He is learning to find pleasure in his youth and a well-trained body. Most of all, he is learning balance. There is a time and a place for everything, including sports.
Welcome to the May 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Ages and Stages
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about their children’s most rewarding and most challenging developmental periods. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Deciding the stage of development I have enjoyed the most as my son grows is impossible. Each stage has had its own joys and challenges. Watching my son discover the shadows made by his own hand has been every bit enjoyable as seeing him take his first steps toward adulthood.
This week my son will be 12, which in this part of the world is the end of childhood. In the past year, I have seen him begin to assert his independence. Although some might call it disobedience, we have allowed him to answer us with No and I for one, am content that we have provided a safe enough environment for him to be able to say No and not be afraid of our reactions. Sometimes we have to countermand his No, but we do so with negotiation and not with Because I’m your parent…responses. Or, at least, that is the idea. I can’t say we are 100% on this as parents yet.
His need for more independence also means he wants to spend more time with friends and less with us. We tried to allow him to ride his bike from home to school, 2 miles each way so that he could hang out with the guys on the way home but found that my husband and I weren’t up to the stress of waiting and wondering if he was ok. So we looked for other ways to allow him more socialization since his friends don’t come out to La Yacata. We drop him off 30 minutes early for school and pick him up 15 minutes late so that he can squeeze in a quick soccer game with the boys. His buddies are allowed to come to the school I teach at on Saturday and hang out, providing they behave. His friends and their parents love this arrangement since they are able to use a computer or play soccer or basketball in a safe and casually supervised environment. We also set up his own Facebook account so he can chatear (chat), although he has to give me the password. This way, I am able to keep tabs on him in the big, bad cyber world, but he doesn’t mind because I don’t abuse the privilege.
We, as parents, take the time to explain to him why certain restrictions still apply. For instance, the no bike to school is not because we don’t think he is responsible enough, but because his father and I worry since he has to pass the police station to get home. (See on Life and Liberty) He isn’t allowed to go every Saturday to his friend’s house, not because he isn’t old enough, but because after classes we have quite a bit to do at home with our animals and we need him to help out. (See Family Hobby) And so on.
This past year, we also have made sure that he has had opportunities to earn his own money. Sometimes, my husband has a job and he takes my son along as his peon (assistant). During Semana Santa, for example, my husband had a 4-day tile-laying job and my son was delighted with his earnings of $500 pesos. Since he contributes to their care, my son also has his own livestock. He owns Shadow the yeguita (female colt) Duchess the goat and any kids she has. This week, he sold Harry, Duchess’s 4-month-old kid for $600 pesos. Another income source for him.
He has shown himself responsible in his use of his earnings, which means we will continue to provide these income opportunities when we can. With the $500 pesos from the tile job, he bought a bridle, rope and paca (bale) of alfalfa for Shadow. With the $600 pesos from Harry’s sale, he bought a 6-month-old female goat, as yet unnamed, with the idea that now he owns two female goats and thus has potential future earnings. We also opened a savings account for him and over the past year he has been able to save over $1000 pesos, not an easy task by any means.
I see also how our family’s decisions continue to influence him in his independent decisions. With his own money, he is allowed to purchase whatever he wishes, yet he weighs each purchase carefully. When he wants to buy a snack, for example, he doesn’t grab a bag of Doritos and coke, but Sal de Mar chips and a Manzanita (carbonated apple drink) both of which fall into the healthful eating categories we have always encouraged as a family.
Physically, as well, I can see how he is growing up. He is now officially taller than me and has more of a mustache than his dad. His voice has its ups and downs as do his emotions. When we have differences, and we do, we remind him that although he is almost a man, he isn’t quite there. I look forward to watching him grow, as I always have.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: